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Viewing Your Emotions Through the Lens of the Guna’s

2.66 The disunited mind is far from wise: how can

It meditate? How be at peace? When you know

No peace, how can you know joy? When you

Let your mind follow the call of the senses, they

Carry away your better judgement as storms

Drive a boat off its charted course.

2.68 Use all your power to free the senses from

Attachment and aversion alike, and live in the full

Wisdom of the Self.

2.70 As rivers flow into the ocean but cannot make

The vast ocean overflow, so flow the streams of the

Sense-world into the sea of peace that is the sage.

From The Bhagavad Gita

Eknath Easwaran translation

The 3 Guna’s are defined in yoga philosophy as a play of emotions. Guna’s are “Cosmic energy on which our deeper consciousness functions. The powers of the soul which hold our karma’s and desires and propel us from birth to birth.”(from Sherry Sidoti) The guna’s are what move us and they are what keep us stuck.

There are 3 guna’s and they are always in constant flux. One is always fighting to control our emotions. Each has its own purpose but when we allow one to dominate (especially rajas or tamas) it can bring imbalance.

By stepping back and viewing your emotions from the point of view of the gunas you could find tendencies and patterns that may help you discern the root of your motivations. These are the 3 guna’s:

Sattva: Our waking state. Where we find complete balance. Qualities of a sattvic state are: Intelligent, light, clarity, peace, spaciousness, love and unity. When we are in a sattvic state we can look at the world clearly without blinders, without ego, without needing to make it ours or put our story into it. We have a sense of BEING ENOUGH and HAVING ENOUGH. We can cultivate self love and a lifestyle that works toward health and unity within and without. In terms of evolution sattva is on the highest level.

Rajas: Our dream state. It is energy and passion. Determined by our ego. The basic drive to satisfy our wants and needs. When out of balance rajas can distract and scatter awareness. It creates separation. Qualities of a rajasic state are: chasing pleasure, distress, conflict, attachment, dissatisfaction, grasping and greed. When we are in a rajasic state we are always seeking outside of ourselves. We are always in pursuit of the next best thing. Our energy is flitting, jumping, PUSHING into action, clinging to happiness, reacting, reacting, reacting. No time for reflection. No need to stop and look inward.

Tamas: Deep sleep. Our passive, stuck, frozen state. The basic drive to rest and maintain things unchanged. When out of balance tama’s hides the truth and creates ignorance. Qualities of a tamasic state are dullness, lethargy, darkness, dilution, destruction and decay. Tamas is the shadow side of our nature, where dormant, repressed emotions hide. When we are in a tamasic state we can’t and won’t seek truth. We can develop deep seated psychological blockages, depression, emotional stagnation. This is the lowest level.

Everyone has all 3 gunas and they are always shifting. Maybe in your next meditation or next yoga practice you could look at how the gunas are working in your emotions. Where do you feel stuck? In what ways are you letting your ego be your master? Which qualities of your emotions allow you to feel content and at peace? Then maybe as you develop this discernment you can take control of your gunas. So that when the vast rivers of the senses flow into you they do not make you overflow, you can remain steadfast as the sea.

/By Ramona Black Larsen

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